Okategoriserade What did the Father Say?

Comment on Pussy Riot: Reflections on Receptions Again, Samutsevich’s testimony evokes a similarity between the Pussy Riot case and women […]

Published on balticworlds.com on December 20, 2012

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Comment on Pussy Riot: Reflections on Receptions

Again, Samutsevich’s testimony evokes a similarity between the Pussy Riot case and women terrorists in pre-revolutionary Russia. Among the proceedings of the terrorists Natalia Klimova and Nadezda Terentieva’s trial after their assassination attempt against Prime Minister Petr Stolypin in 1906, there figured a letter written by Klimova’s father. Just like Stanislav Samutsevich today, he was trying to convince the court of the innocence of his daughter who was facing a death sentence. In doing so, he used arguments and narratives quite reminiscent of what Samutsevich told the investigation. Here is the translation of some fragments from the letter:

She (Klimova) is accused of a serious and infamous crime. (…) but you (the court) are dealing with a thoughtless girl, who is attracted to the present day revolutionary time. She has always been a good, soft and kind girl, but very fond of ideas. About a year and a half ago, she was following Tolstoy with his commandment “Thou shalt not kill”. For two years, she was a vegetarian and behaved like a normal working woman not allowing the servants to help her wash the clothes, clean her room, or sweep the floor. And now she is suddenly involved in a terrible murder (…) I dare to assure you, your honor, that my daughter doesn’t know anything about politics; she was obviously a puppet in the hands of stronger people (…) Carried away by the enthusiasm of the liberation movement, our youth doesn’t notice how it becomes a tool in the hands of mean revolutionaries (…) I have always been the person of correct views and as a member of Oktyabrist party, actes as elected member of the State Council from the Ryazan provincial territorial legislation. I tried to inspire the same correct views in my children, but I have to confess, that in this chaotic time parental influence has no value. Our young people cause greatest misfortunes and sufferings to all people around them, including their parents, As a father I feel, infinite pity for the young life of my daughter that is about to perish. Understanding how foul the crime is she is accused of, I can’t forget the parental feelings to her, and with all my heart I implore you, your honor, and the jury, to spare her life. Don’t execute her, keep a young life for the future; I am sure that this life will change, that it will manage to expiate the heavy fault by benefiting the people and the homeland”.[1]

Klimov’s letter was written in 1907. Samutsevich’s testimony was given in 2011It is amazing how the narratives and the vocabulary to explain these women “deviancy” are the same at present as they were one hundred years ago. Indeed, the patriarchal language and the fear of active women behind it appear to be as relevant now as they were then.


  1. Vzryv na Aptekarskom ostrove (1917), in Byloe, No. 5-6 (27-28): 225-226.
  • by Nadezda Petrusenko

    Currently a lecturer in history at Örebro University. She received her doctoral degree in 2018 at Södertörn University. Her research interests include gender history, historiography, and the history of terrorism in Russia.

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